The Beast resides within all creatures, from scuttling cockroaches to scabrous rats up through untamed wolves and even powerful Kindred elders. Animalism allows the vampire to amplify his intensely primordial nature. He can not only communicate with animals, but can also force his will upon them, directing such beasts to do as he commands. As the vampire grows in power, he can even control the Beast within mortals and other supernaturals. Beasts grow distinctly gitated in the presence of a vampire who lacks this Discipline or the Skill of Animal Ken, often to the point of attacking or running from the vampire. In contrast, vampires possessing Animalism exude a dominant vibe to lower creatures, which attracts them. Animalism is commonly found with vampires of the Gangrel and Nosferatu Clans. Manipulation and Charisma are important for the use of Animalism powers; the stronger the vampire’s personality, the more influence he has over animals.
• Feral Whispers
This power is the basis from which all other Animalism abilities grow. The vampire creates an empathic connection with a beast, thereby allowing him to communicate or issue simple commands. The Kindred locks eyes with the animal, transmitting his desires through sheer force of will. Although it isn’t necessary to actually “speak” in chirps, hisses, or barks, some vampires find that doing so helps strengthen the connection with the animal. Eye contact must be maintained the entire time; if it’s broken, the Kindred must re-establish contact to continue communication.
The simpler the creature, the more difficult it becomes to connect with the animal’s Beast. Mammals, predatory birds, and larger reptiles are relatively easy to communicate with. Insects, invertebrates, and most fish are just too simple to connect with.
Feral Whispers provides no guarantees that an animal will want to deal with the vampire, nor does it ensure that the animal will pursue any requests the vampire makes of it. Still, it does at least make the creature better disposed toward the Kindred. The manner in which the vampire presents his desires to the animal often depends on the type of creature. A Kindred can often bully smaller beasts into heeding commands, but he’s better off couching orders for large predators as requests.
If the vampire successfully uses the power, the animal performs the command to the best of its ability and intellect. Only the very brightest creatures understand truly complex directives (orders dealing with conditional situations or requiring abstract logic). Commands that the animal does understand remain deeply implanted, however, and guide its behavior for some time.
System: No roll is necessary to talk with an animal, but the character must establish eye contact first. Issuing commands requires a Manipulation + Animal Ken roll. The difficulty depends on the creature: Predatory mammals (wolves, cats, vampire bats) are difficulty 6, other mammals and predatory birds (rats, owls) are difficulty 7, and other birds and reptiles (pigeons, snakes) are difficulty 8. This difficulty is reduced by one if the character speaks to the animal in its “native tongue,” and can be adjusted further by circumstances and roleplaying skill (we highly recommend that all communication between characters and animals be roleplayed).
The number of successes the player achieves dictates how strongly the character’s command affects the animal. One success is sufficient to have a cat follow an individual and lead the character to the same location, three successes are enough to have a raven spy on a target for weeks, and five successes ensure that a grizzly ferociously guards the entrance to the character’s wilderness haven for some months.
The character’s Nature plays a large part in how he approaches these conversations. The character might try intimidating, teasing, cajoling, or rationalizing. The player should understand that he does not simply play his character in these situations, but the Beast Within as well.
Using this power cannot force an animal to do something against its nature, or to force a creature to risk its life. While the aforementioned grizzly would stand guard to the vampire’s haven and even fight for it, it would not do so against obviously superior numbers or something overwhelmingly supernatural. A predatory bird might be convinced to harry a target, but would definitely not hold ground. A docile dog or skittish cat would have no problem with reporting something it had seen, but it wouldn’t enter combat unless given no other option — though it would likely agree to stand and fight and then flee at the first opportunity, if a harsh Kindred demanded it.
The vampire’s connection to the Beast grows strong enough that he may call out in the voice of a specific type of animal — howling like a wolf, shrilling like a raven, etc. This call mystically summons creatures of the chosen type. Since each type of animal has a different call, Beckoning works for only a single species at a time.
All such animals within earshot are summoned, and some percentage of them will heed the Beckoning if it is successful. While the vampire has no further control over the beasts who answer, the animals who do are favorably disposed toward him and are at least willing to listen to the Kindred’s concerns. (The vampire can then use Feral Whispers on individual animals to command them, which may be at a decreased difficulty at Storyteller discretion.)
System: The player rolls Charisma + Survival (difficulty 6) to determine the response to the character’s call; consult the table below. Only animals that can hear the cry will respond. If the Storyteller decides no animals of that type are within earshot, the summons goes unanswered.
The call can be as specific as the player desires. A character could call for all bats in the area, for only the male bats nearby, or for only the albino bat with the notched ear he saw the other night.
|1 success||A single animal responds.|
|2 sucesses||One-quarter of the animals within earshot respond.|
|3 successes||Half of the animals respond.|
|4 successes||Most of the animals respond.|
|5 successes||All of the animals respond.|
••• Quell the Beast
As the supreme predators of the natural world, Kindred are highly attuned to the bestial nature that dwells within every mortal heart. A vampire who develops this power may assert his will over a mortal (animal or human) subject, subduing the Beast within her. This quenches all powerful, strong emotions — hope, fury, love, fear — within the target. The Kindred must either touch his subject or stare into her eyes to channel his will effectively.
Mortals who lack the fire of their inner Beasts are quite tractable, reacting to even stressful situations with indifference. Even the most courageous or maddened mortal becomes apathetic and listless, while an especially sensitive individual may suffer from a phobic derangement while under the power’s influence. Different Clans evoke this power in different ways, though the effect itself is identical. Tzimisce call it Cowing the Beast, since they force the mortal’s weaker spirit to shrivel in fear before the Kindred’s own inner Beast. Nosferatu refer to it as Song of Serenity, since they soothe the subject’s Beast into a state of utter complacency, thus allowing them to feed freely. Gangrel know the power as Quell the Beast, and force the mortal spirit into a state of fear or apathy as befits the individual vampire’s nature.
System: The player rolls Manipulation + Intimidation if forcing down the Beast through fear, or Manipulation + Empathy if soothing it into complacency. The difficulty of the roll is 7 in either case. This is an extended action requiring as many total successes as the target has Willpower. Failure indicates that the player must start over from the beginning, while a botch indicates that the vampire may not affect that subject’s Beast for the remainder of the scene. When a mortal’s Beast is cowed or soothed, she can no longer use or regain Willpower. She ceases all struggles, whether mental or physical. She doesn’t even defend herself if assaulted, though the Storyteller may allow a Willpower roll if the mortal believes her life is truly threatened. To recover from this power, the mortal’s player rolls Willpower (difficulty 6) once per day until she accumulates enough successes to equal the vampire’s Willpower. Kindred cannot be affected by this power.
Though a vampire’s Beast cannot be cowed with this ability, the Storyteller may allow characters to use the “soothing” variation of this power to pull a vampire out of frenzy. With three or more successes, the frenzying vampire may roll again to pull herself out of frenzy, using the same difficulty as the stimulus that caused the frenzy originally.
•••• Subsume the Spirit
By locking his gaze with that of an animal, the vampire may mentally possess the creature. Some elders believe that since animals don’t have souls but spirits, the vampire can move his own soul into the animal’s body. Many younger vampires think it a matter of transferring one’s consciousness into the animal’s mind. In either case, it’s agreed that the beast’s weaker spirit (or mind) is pushed aside by the Kindred’s own consciousness. The vampire’s body falls into a motionless state akin to torpor while his mind takes control of the animal’s actions, remaining this way until the Kindred’s consciousness returns.
Some haughty Tzimisce eschew this power, considering it debasing to enter the body of a lesser creature. When they do stoop to using it, they possess only predators. Conversely, Gangrel revel in connecting to the natural world in this way. They delight in sampling different animals’ natures.
System: The player rolls Manipulation + Animal Ken (difficulty 8) as the character looks into the animal’s eyes (see sidebar on p. 152). The number of successes allows the character to employ some mental Disciplines while possessing the animal, as noted below.
|1 success||Cannot use Disciplines|
|2 successes||Can use Auspex and other sensory powers|
|3 successes||Can also use Presence and other powers of emotional manipulation|
|4 successes||Can also use Dementation, Dominate, and other powers of mental manipulation|
|5 successes||Can also use Chimerstry, Necromancy, Thaumaturgy, and other mystical powers|
This power entwines the character’s consciousness closely with the animal’s spirit, so much so that the character may continue to think and feel like that animal even after breaking the connection. This effect continues until the character spends a total of seven nights or three Willpower points to resist and finally overcome the animal nature. This should be roleplayed, though the character will be affected to a lesser degree if the player chooses to spend Willpower.
At the end of any particularly exciting incident during possession, the player rolls Wits + Empathy (difficulty 8) for the character to retain his own mind. Failure indicates that the character’s mind returns to his own body, but still thinks in purely animalistic terms. A botch returns the character to his body, and also sends him into frenzy. The character may travel as far from his own physical body as he chooses while possessing the animal. The character retains no conscious connection with his vampire body during this time, though. The vampire may also venture out during the day, albeit in the animal’s body. However, the character’s own body must be awake to do so, requiring a successful roll to remain awake. If the character leaves the animal’s body (by choice, if his body falls asleep, or after sustaining significant injury), the vampire’s consciousness returns to his physical form instantaneously.
Although the vampire has no conscious link to his body while possessing the animal, he does form a sympathetic bond. Anything the animal feels, the vampire also experiences, from pleasure to pain. In fact, any damage the animal’s body sustains is also applied to the character’s body, though the Kindred body may soak as normal. If the animal dies before the vampire’s soul can flee from the body, the character’s body falls into torpor. Presumably this is in sympathetic response to the massive trauma of death, but some Kindred believe that the vampire’s soul is cast adrift during this time and must find its way back to the body.
••••• Drawing Out the Beast
At this level of Animalism, the Kindred has a keen understanding of the Beast Within, and is able to release his feral urges upon another mortal or vampire. The recipient of the vampire’s Beast is instantly overcome by frenzy. This is an unnatural frenzy, however, as the victim is channeling the Kindred’s own fury. As such, the vampire’s own behavior, expressions, and even speech patterns are evident in the subject’s savage actions.
Gangrel and Tzimisce are especially fond of unleashing their Beasts onto others. Gangrel do so to stir their ghouls into inspired heights of savagery during combat. Tzimisce care less about who receives their Beast than retaining their own composure.
System: The player must announce his preferred target (since it must be someone within sight, Drawing Out the Beast cannot be used if the vampire is alone), then roll Manipulation + Self-Control/Instinct (difficulty 8). Refer to the table below for the results:
|1 success||The character transfers the Beast, but unleashes it upon a random individual.|
|2 successes||The character is stunned by the effort and may not act next turn, but transfers the Beast successfully. Alternatively, the character may act normally during the turn, but must spend a Willpower point or suffer a single level of lethal damage.|
|3 successes||The character transfers the Beast successfully.|
If the attempt fails, the character himself immediately enters frenzy. As the character relaxes in expectation of relieving his savage urges, the Beast takes that opportunity to dig deeper. In this case, the frenzy lasts twice as long as normal and is twice as difficult to shrug off; its severity also increases exponentially. Botching this roll is even more catastrophic; the heightened frenzy grows so extreme that not even expending Willpower curbs its duration or effects. The character is a hapless victim to the terrible fury of his Beast, and may well hurl herself into a savage, flesh-rending rampage that leaves the Masquerade (and unfortunate nearby onlookers) in tatters.
If the character leaves the target’s presence before the frenzy expends itself, the vampire loses his Beast, perhaps permanently. While no longer vulnerable to frenzy, the character cannot use or regain Willpower and becomes increasingly lethargic. To recover the Beast, he must find the person who now possesses it (who likely isn’t enjoying herself very much) and coax the Beast into its proper vessel. The most effective way to do so is to behave in ways that make the Beast want to return — however, this isn’t a guarantee that it will wish to do so. Alternatively, the character can simply kill the host (thus causing the Beast to return to the vampire immediately).
••••• • Animal Succulence
Most vampires find the blood of animals flat, tasteless and lacking in nutritional value. Some Gangrel and Nosferatu, however, have refined their understanding of the spirits of such “lesser prey” to the point that they are able to draw much more sustenance from beasts than normal Kindred can. This power does not allow an elder to subsist solely on the blood of animals, but it does allow him to go for extended periods of time without taking vitae from humans or other Kindred.
System: No roll is needed; once learned, this power is always in effect. Animal Succulence allows a character to count each blood point drawn from an animal as two in her blood pool. This does not increase the size of the vampire’s blood pool, just the nutritional value of animal blood.
Animal Succulence does not allow a character to completely ignore his craving for the blood of “higher” prey; in fact, it heightens his desire for “real food.” Every three times (rounded down) the character drinks from an animal, a cumulative +1 difficulty is applied to the next Self-Control/Instinct roll the player makes when the character is confronted with the possibility of dining on human or Kindred blood.
Animal Succulence does not increase the blood point value of the blood of other supernatural creatures (Gangrel, werecreatures, and so on) who have taken animal forms, nor does it change the vampire’s feeding preferences (such as the Ventrue have).
••••• • Eye of the Szlachta
Many Fiends can possess the lowly beasts of the wild, but some few can ride any ghoul who shares their blood. By locking eyes with her ghoul, the Fiend can transfer her soul into the creature. Although some Tzimisce consider such intimate contact with their servants distasteful, sometimes it is necessary to calm a rampaging vozhd in a disposable vessel. More than one Fiend has faked their death in the body of a cleverly fleshcrafted ghoul.
System: Use the system for the Animalism power Subsume the Spirit.
This power allows a character to probe the mind of any one animal she touches. Shared Soul can be very disconcerting to both parties involved, as each participant is completely immersed in the thoughts and emotions of the other. With enough effort or time, each participant can gain a complete understanding of the other’s mind. Shared Soul is most often used to extract an animal’s memories of a specific event, but some Gangrel use this power as a tool in the search for enlightenment, feeling they come to a better understanding of their own Beasts through rapport with true beasts. Too close of a bond, however, can leave the two souls entangled after the sharing ends, causing the vampire to adopt mannerisms, behavior patterns, or even ethics (or lack thereof) similar to those of the animal.
System: The character touches the intended subject creature, and the player rolls Perception + Animal Ken (difficulty 6). The player spends a Willpower point for every turn past the first that contact is maintained. Locating a specific memory takes six turns, minus one turn for every success on the roll. A complete bond takes 10 turns, minus one turn for every success on the roll. A botch on this roll may, at the Storyteller’s discretion, send the vampire into a frenzy or give the character a derangement related to the behavior patterns of the animal (extreme cowardice if the vampire contacted the soul of mouse, bloodlust if the subject was a rabid dog, and so forth).
••••• • Species Speech
The basic power Feral Whispers (Animalism 1) allows character to communicate with only one animal at a time. With Species Speech, a character can enter into psychic communion with all creatures of a certain species that are present. Species Speech is most often used after an application of The Beckoning (Animalism 2), which can draw a crowd of likely subjects.
System: The player rolls Manipulation + Animal Ken (difficulty 7) to establish contact with the targeted group of animals. Once the character establishes contact, the player makes a second roll to issue commands. There is no practical upper limit on the number of animals that can be commanded with this power, although all of the intended subjects must be in the vampire’s immediate vicinity. Only one species of animal can be commanded at a time; thus, if a character is standing in the middle of the reptile house at the zoo, she could command all of the Komodo dragons, all of the boa constrictors, or all of the skinks, but she could not simultaneously give orders to every reptile or snake present. Species Speech functions much like Feral Whispers in all other respects.
Note: Players (and Storytellers) shouldn’t get too wrapped up in species differences like northern diamondback rattlesnakes and south-eastern diamondback rattlesnakes. At Storyteller discretion, the expenditure of an additional Willpower point allows the character’s commands to extend to members of a similar species to the one initially commanded.
••••• •• Beast Shard
With Unleash the Beast, the vampire instills her Beast in a human or Cainite victim, effectively losing it for a time. With Beast Shard, she can break apart her Beast into smaller pieces, infecting multiple characters simultaneously. Characters infected with her Beast are more susceptible to her Disciplines.
System: The character may use Unleash the Beast on multiple characters at a time, and is not limited in further uses. Unlike Unleash the Beast, Beast Shard does not require eye contact. Roll Charisma + Self-Control/Instinct, difficulty 5 + the number of targets. Use Drawing Out the Beast’s success chart, but all targets are affected equally. The vampire may choose to infect a victim with her Beast but not inspire frenzy. Cainite victims suffer +2 difficulty to all frenzy resistances. Human victims become prone to frenzy as if they were Cainite. Additionally, the difficulty to all Discipline powers she uses on an affected character decreases by one.
The vampire may have a total number of infected characters equal to her Generation Background dots. If she has that many concurrent victims, she suffers the effects of losing her Beast, mentioned in Unleashing the Beast. To affect further characters, she must first coax a shard of her Beast back, or kill a host.
••••• •• Conquer the Beast
Masters of Animalism have a much greater understanding of both beasts in general and the Beast in particular. Those who have developed this power can master their own Beasts to a degree impossible for lesser Kindred to attain. Conquer the Beast allows the vampire both to control her frenzies and to enter them at will. Some elders say that the development of this power is one of the first steps on the road to Golconda.
System: The character can enter frenzy at will. The player rolls Willpower (difficulty 7). Success sends the character into a controlled frenzy. He can choose his targets at will, but gains limited Dominate and wound penalty resistance and Rötschreck immunity as per the normal frenzy rules. A botch on the roll sends the vampire into an uncontrolled frenzy which Conquer the Beast may not be used to end. The player may also roll Willpower (difficulty 9) to enable the character to control an involuntary frenzy. In this case, a Willpower point must be spent for every turn that the vampire remains in frenzy. The player may make Self-Control/Instinct rolls as normal to end a frenzy, but if the vampire runs out of Willpower points before the frenzy ends, he drops into an uncontrolled frenzy again. A botch on the Willpower roll raises the difficulty of the vampire’s Self-Control/Instinct rolls by two and renders Conquer the Beast unusable for the remainder of the night.
••••• ••• Taunt the Caged Beast
Some Kindred are so attuned to the Beast that they can unleash it in another individual at will. Vampires who have developed this power are able to send adversaries into frenzy with a finger’s touch and the resultant momentary contact with the victim’s Beast. The physical contact allows the vampire’s own Beast to reach out and awaken that of the victim, enraging it by threatening its territory.
System: The character touches the target. The player spends a Willpower point and rolls Manipulation + Empathy (difficulty 7). The victim makes a Self-Control/Instinct roll (difficulty 5 + the number of successes); failure results in an immediate frenzy. A botch causes the character to unleash his own Beast and frenzy instead. This power maybe used on those individuals who are normally incapable of frenzy, sending ordinary humans into murderous rages worthy of the most bloodthirsty Brujah berserker.
••••• ••• The Beast’s Quills
With this power, the elder’s Beast stands at ready, prepared to lash out at anyone that would assail it. The Beast infects attackers, particularly so if the vampire loses blood in the attack.
System: Spend a blood point and roll Manipulation + Self-Control/Instinct (difficulty 8) to activate The Beast’s Quills for the scene, or until the vampire successfully transfers her Beast through this power. When the vampire takes a blow in brawling or melee combat, the Beast strikes out. The effect is identical to Unleash the Beast, with successes equal to the vampire’s Beast’s Quills activation successes. However, if the vampire suffered lethal damage after the soak roll, her blood splashes on her attacker, tainting him with the Beast’s fury.
The attacker’s frenzy difficulty increases by two. Note that under normal circumstances, this ability only works once per activation. However, if the vampire also possesses Beast Shard, it may infect multiple opponents in the same scene.
••••• •••• Flesh Bond
At this level of Animalism, the vampire develops an extraordinary bond with the “lower” creatures. She can now physically merge with animals, becoming one flesh.
System: With a roll of Stamina + Animal Ken (difficulty 7), the character can absorb smaller animals into her very being. She may release the animals at will. Each creature thus absorbed forces the character to spend one of her blood points for every five points in the animal’s blood pool; a character can thus bond with 20 rats — each of which is worth 1/4 a blood point — by spending one of her own blood points. The vampire cannot feed to regain any blood points spent in this manner until the character releases the animals. At any time, the character can ingest the absorbed creatures, acquiring their collective blood pool.
The exsanguinated corpses of the animals are then spat out of the vampire’s body.
While the character cannot physically absorb a larger creature, she can meld her body with such a creature by making a successful Stamina + Animal Ken roll (difficulty 7) and spending one blood point. Thus, she can merge her body into that of a charging Kodiak bear and move around during the day within it. Note that the character has no control over the animal with which she has merged unless she has also used Subsume the Spirit upon it.
A successful use the Aura Perception upon a character or creature who has “riders” will notice an unusual tinge to the subject’s aura.
••••• •••• Plague of Beasts
A Methuselah master of Animalism can bring about plagues of Biblical proportion. Expanding on Call the Wild, the vampire summons forth animals to her. However, instead of calling out in one animal’s tongue, the Beast itself cries out over miles or kilometers. This summons every animal to swarm around the Cainite, causing utter bedlam.
System: Roll Charisma + Animal Ken (difficulty 8). Each success extends the radius outward one mile/1.5 km from the vampire. All animals in the area immediately rush in to follow the vampire’s bidding. However, with this raw quantity of animals, the vampire may only roughly direct them to simple actions. Most commonly, this involves attacking a target or ravaging a group. They will avoid targets at the vampire’s behest as well.
Each turn, more animals arrive to swarm. Begin building a dice pool, which increases by two dice each turn. It continues to increase each turn, for a number of turns equal to the vampire’s successes. Each turn, the swarm can make an attack roll against every character in the vampire’s vicinity, less the vampire’s exempted targets. Use the accumulated dice pool for these attacks. Their damage dice pool is three plus successes, and they cause bashing damage.
Additionally, the difficulty for Perception rolls increases by two for any characters within the swarm created by Plague of Beasts due to the chaos. Swarms are difficult to displace. Often fire will hold them off. But a large swarm acts with relentless fervor against anything that doesn’t present a clear danger to the whole.
••••• •••• Unchain the Beast
The self-destructive nature of Cainites can be turned against them by an elder who possesses this formidable power. With a glance, the vampire can awaken the Beasts of her enemies, causing physical injury and excruciating agony as the victim’s own violent impulses manifest in physical form to tear him apart from within. A target of this power erupts into a fountain of blood and gore as claw and bite wounds from an invisible source spontaneously tear his flesh asunder.
System: The character makes eye contact with the intended victim. The player spends three blood points and rolls Manipulation + Intimidation (difficulty of the victim’s Self-Control/Instinct + 4). Each success inflicts one health level of aggravated damage, which can be soaked normally. A botch inflicts one health level of lethal damage to the invoking character for each “1” rolled. This damage can also be soaked normally.